Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Is It Me?


Thursday Aug 6, 2009
Bruce Sutter BS Y, Kevin Smith KS Y, Barbara Barry BB Y, Greg Morse GM N, Hal White HW Y, Arnold Wilson AW Y, William Smith WS Y, Dean Stickney DS Y, Phil O’Brien POB N, Tom Kondel TK Y, Mary Redetzke MR N, Mike Racicot MKR Y, Blake Duzak BD Y, Natalie Eringros NE N

"After a lengthy discussion with Ms Dumas and Mr. Ouellette the Committee voted to reject COP’s 15 and 16 (proposals to replace the existing windows with new insulated glass units) and sanction the work originally described in the plans and specs. The original windows are to be restored and reinstalled in the existing openings. Ms Dumas was asked if the CPC would have an issue with storm windows and she replied that they would not, discussion on the benefits of storm windows was tabled."

--Taken from the comments left on the recent posting "Dum Dum Da Dum" May 2, 2011

So this is how it went down.  The existing, old windows were restored to their single paned glory because it was in the original "plans and specs"? 


No one thought to question it.  No one? 

If the reason was to preserve the history of the windows by having them restored and then reinstalled then why was the committee fine with covering the windows with modern, unattractive storm windows?

Is it me?  Am I making a whole lot over nothing? 

I don't think so.


  1. Minutes of some meetings where this topic was discussed can be found here:

  2. While minutes may not reflect it, several people involved in the Town Hall/Center School window replacement decision researched the window issue extensively. As one of the writers in one of the pdf links pasted below wrote:
    “Windows are a critical element of sustainability, but sustainability is not just about energy. It is about making environmentally responsible choices regarding historic windows that take into account the spectrum of associated costs and effects. The choice of whether to replace or restore requires embracing a more encompassing definition of sustainability. The answer is not as simplistic as some would have us believe.”

    It is important to remember that over 1.5 MILLION dollars of CPA funds were used to help fund the renovation of Town Hall and Center School. CPA funds can be used towards Historic architectural features to be specified for a Historic structure. CPA funds could NOT have been used to pay for new windows. If one does the research he/she can see why a decision to restore the historic windows, rather than replace with new windows, was fiscally responsible.

    To the blog writer who expressed their confusion as to why those interested in historic looking buildings would support a storm window on the exterior of the building, I suggest they consider interior storm windows which would be an appropriate solution for Town Hall and Center School. Horizontal blinds, which are at most times down, throughout Town Hall and Center School cover the interior of the windows in away that would make interior storm windows less visible than exterior storm windows.

    People who worked hard, as VOLUNTEERS, in the best interest of the Town, to restore two beautiful historic buildings on our Town Common deserve more respect than some blog participants are willing to give.

    This blog entry seems to be on the “us vs. them” track and that does nothing good for the Town.

  3. Wally, a point worth noting is that with the exception of the minutes from January and February 2011, which were submitted timely, all other minutes from the Town Hall/Center Office Building Committee were not submitted to the Town Clerk until April 21, 2011. That submission came in response to a public records request I submitted.

    Additionally, no minutes have (as yet) been submitted for the period covering 9 August 2007 through September 2008.

    To be clear, this is not to suggest something nefarious in the absence of these minutes, but merely to point out that gathering information specific to this process is one that involves time.

  4. To anonymous. I truly respect anyone that volunteers their service towards our town, and I understand the hard work that goes into the planning, and implementation of ideas. But, here's the rub, there has to be oversight. Oversight to rule against single pane windows because they are the only ones CPA funds will pay for. If it means larger heating bills, seasonal discomfort of the the buildings occupants, then why use the funds on them? Why not use those funds on something else that would qualify, and properly insulate and heat the renovated building. Then, maybe, just maybe that decision will save money in the long run in heating expenses, and maybe help qualify us for green community grants. Oversight is needed to weed through the decisions and plans made by many different people, with equally diverse personalities and agendas in order to make sure that everyone is headed in the same direction with the same goal.

    Windows are only apart of a renovation. If we were restoring a piece of Plimouth Planation then go for all the authenticity you can, but when renovating an old building with a safe, energy efficient, ergonomically well designed space for modern use, then don't let history get in the way, and confound the matter.

  5. To Tom Creamer: Again, oversight is needed not only as I stated above, but in day to day functions as well. Some one, or someone's to make sure minutes are submitted in a timely manner for all boards, and committees. We all have issues we let slip, or forget, but when it is consistently done in that manner then there is a need for a fail safe plan.

  6. Regarding this statement:
    “Windows are a critical element of sustainability, but sustainability is not just about energy. It is about making environmentally responsible choices regarding historic windows that take into account the spectrum of associated costs and effects. The choice of whether to replace or restore requires embracing a more encompassing definition of sustainability. The answer is not as simplistic as some would have us believe.”

    Here we go again: Poor "simple, stupid" us who are too "simpleminded" to understand that above statement! Oh, the "simplicity" of wanting to use our current knowledge in ways to save energy (fuel as well as work hours required to handle storm windows, etc.) while honoring our past. Our lives and those of our ancestors and future descendants are, and will be, whether we embrace the fact or not, a blend of the past present present and future.

  7. Most of us "volunteer" in one way or another every day of our lives, and most of us who volunteer do that for the benefit of others, often with some sort of a "feel good benefit" for ourselves. Some of us "volunteer" because we are very much needed to do so, and because our "volunteering" is really not so much of a choice, the "feel good" factor is a bit muted, but it's still there.

    Ideally, as volunteers our goal is to do our best for our fellow man, and often we have a wonderful time because we doing something we love to do. Sometimes we can get carried away. It happens. Those for whom we feel we are doing a favor have the right to ask us to do a little less, make changes if possible, and even to refuse our "help" when they find it may not really be in their best interest. We all love the angels among us, but if they begin to act like overlords - not so much.

  8. The original panes of glass were removed from the old, and in some cases, broken window frames, placed into new window frames, and inserted into the window openings.

    I spend some evenings at town hall, and I certainly get a sense of "original" windows because the glass is wavy but at the same time, the windows are like new and much more efficient than they used to be - yes, they're single pane. Perhaps some town employees might consider moving their desks away from the windows, or sealing the interior with plastic for the winter? I believe the problem lies with the inefficient and improperly working HVAC system, and not so much the windows.

    I, for one, appreciate the thought, consideration, and work that went into keeping the old wavy panes of glass. Thanks!

  9. The HVAC system does need some adjusting according to those at the town hall. It's something that can be done. Wavy glass can be sn option with modern windows. No one should need to move their desk in a new building in order to stay warm. That is a symptom of a larger problem, and needs correction. History is something to preserve, and cherish, but let's not let the past rule our present. We need to learn from the past, and the past has taught us that we freeze in the winter with single pane windows.

  10. Been there. The cold wind was coming through the WINDOWS this past winter. What I felt coming from the windows had nothing to do with the HVAC system. (I guess that's yet another problem?) I was not sitting at a desk. 'Was just a tax paying citizen trying to keep warm while doing what needed to be done at the Town Hall. By the way I had to use the back door, too.

  11. Talk about tacky! We payed over 5 million dollars, just to be told to move the desks and put plastic on the windows? Some of us have to do that at home because we can't afford the price of doing something a little better. 'Better not let any winter tourists see the interior of the Town Hall on a cold day. They might never come back. Maybe one of those TV millionaires will come along and take pity on some of our shivering workers at the town hall and buy us new windows.

  12. Thank you! Now I know I'm not delusional. Those were real $100 dollar bills floating out of the town hall windows and disappearing into the air. Poof! Just like that.

  13. I'd rather keep the extra 3% that is charged along with my property tax for CPC funds and use it for something important rather than have someone literally make it vanish into thin air.

  14. Cost listed in original plans to keep/refurbish those same old drafty windows at the Town Hall itself? Fifty thousand dollars.

  15. Our 5 million plus project started out at 3.5. Next time we need to get our hands on minutes, plans, etc.!
    What I can't understand is that even when things like the windows and 2 slate roofs were discussed in later meetings of the Town Hall and Center School Renovation Committee and the Community Preservation Committee, they voted yet again to follow these money pit plans.


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